At work, wouldn't it be fair to say most of us want to be perceived as successful, dependable, worth promoting and even dynamic? Yes, our pedigree, diploma, and connections can get our foot in the door but what keeps us in everyone's good graces and keeps us from getting the boot?
How we behave at work can deeply affect how far ahead we get, how often we receive raises and promotions, and even the quality of the type of projects we are given. How we behave can also be construed as indicators of our character. In short, we are valued or judged on our behavior at work.
Here are 5 big NO-NO's:
1. The Houdini smile. You know that smile. It's the smile that instantly vanishes when the giver turns away. You know, the smile that tries to brighten the room but almost never quite reaches the eyes and even if by some miracle the giver does manage to authenticate that fake smile, it slips off as their head is turning away, leaving in its place a subtle, almost triumphantly obnoxious sneer of victory that they have yet again duped the receiver.
What you can do: Learn to smile genuinely and make a point to keep a smile on your face after engaging with others for at least 5-10 seconds. The way to let your smile fade naturally is to keep thinking about a positive aspect of the conversation. Think of your gently-fading smile as a "transition" from the engagement to your next task.
2. Gossip. Nearly everyone does it. It is so prevalent in today's workplace that to not gossip could get you on the least-popular-list in a jiffy. However, employees are beginning to stand up against office bullying and other harmful work environments. The need to subtly dissuade gossip has become urgent and there are ways to effectively handle this.
What you can do: Never start gossiping. When someone else gossips, find a reason to excuse yourself or simply change the subject.
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3. Being rude to others (even accidentally). This is such a broad and vague subject that it can be difficult to navigate without a second pair of eyes on you. There are a few things that can make one appear rude even if they don't mean to be.
- Googley eye contact: lack of eye contact, wandering eyes, lack of interest in eyes, fake smiles that don't reach the eyes.
- Shyness: being nervous to carry on a conversation, poor posture, being more quiet than others (don't worry, we do address those extraverts in moment!).
- Lack of etiquette: not holding the door for others, not saying good morning to each person you meet, not shaking hands properly, introducing people incorrectly, not holding the elevator, not displaying the proper respect to everyone from the boss to the janitor.
What you can do: Learn about eye contact. If you are shy, learn some techniques to help with confident communication. Take a career etiquette workshop or read a book or two. This is good even if you already have good business etiquette. Also, get honest feedback from others if you think you may display rudeness.
4. Being an office bully. There are basically two types of office bullies: the ones who know they are bullies and the ones who blame others for making them re-act in an uncivil manner. Either way, bullies engage in any or all of these behaviors: demeaning body language, talk down-to, yell, criticize, public reprimanding, sexual advances, gossip, hazing, roasting, teasing, stealing credit, oh! The list goes on!
What you can do: There is a simple 3 step plan for controlling one's tendency to engage in office bullying:
- Learn to manage your stress and temper.
- Get some conflict resolution skills under your belt.
- Now stop bullying others.
5. Talking non-stop about yourself or complaining. We all know that office assistant that we avoid. You know, the one we attempt to escape from for fear that if he catches our eye he will instantaneously launch into a five minute monologue about any given subject. Don't be that guy! Or the complaining, whining, nay-sayer that no one can please.
What you can do: Ask more questions and listen to the answers. Never speak in sentences more than 11 words long. Stop worrying about the things you can complain about and focus more on solutions. -
BONUS: Bad body language! It may surprise you to learn that bad body language can make people unlikeable. It stands to reason since non-verbal communication is a huge percentage of our communication. This can include facial expressions, unpolished or inappropriate gestures, poor posture, clenched fists, fidgeting, hands crossed in front of your chest or even held together down in front of your belly, hands on your hips, hair in your eyes, crossed feet, one foot over your knee, rushed behavior, tone of voice, insensitivity to personal space, too much swag in your walk and not enough swag in your walk.
What you can do: Join a club like Toastmasters to address other idiosyncrasies. Take international etiquette to learn how some body language (like showing the bottom of your foot) can offend others cultures. Take ballet or yoga consistently to improve posture.
Please also click the link below for a well-rounded view of this topic. A portion of my above tips, along with several other wonderful pieces of advice from other experts were featured in this FABULOUS article on CareerBuilder.com:
Bio: Carrie Glenn helps Millennials develop modern career etiquette so that they can become a powerful force in the workplace. She teaches workplace civility, career etiquette, volunteer and event etiquette, Mother/Daughter grace and poise, professional dining, professional image and makeup, and more. From the dining room to the boardroom, her unique training provides powerful social skills that deliver results. She is the founder of EtiquetteAtHand.com, where she teaches everything kind, classy, and beautiful and she is the author of The Periscope Checklist, the eBook that teaches professional, high quality live broadcasting skills.
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